3 Key points to consider as a veteran athlete

Competitive sport has been around for ages and there are many research studies available for competitive young adults to make recommendations on how to train, when to rest, how to eat, etc. Unfortunately, most of these studies were done on men in their 20s and 30s and while the general recommendations and ideas are probably similar for everyone, there are some age and gender-specific issues that are not always well enough addressed.

I already wrote articles before targeting female athletes and young athletes. This article is for all the veteran athletes (40 years old and above) who want to improve their performance and keep their good health.

Bone mineral density

It’s no secret that after a certain age, the bone mineral density decreases. While this is well established for women, men also suffer the same fate, but at a lower rate. Although you can’t stop this phenomenon completely, you can slow it down. If you’re reading this post you’re probably already doing sport, which is one of the key factors in preserving bone mineral density. Especially a combination of high-impact, aerobic and resistance exercises is recommended [1]. If I have to name a sport that perfectly combines all these elements I’d definitely pick judo or BJJ ;-).

From a nutrition point of view, calcium and vitamin D are important to consider in this topic. Vitamin D is important for the calcium uptake in our body and is also involved in muscle synthesis. Our skin usually generates vitamin D from sunlight, however, as we get older this capacity reduces. An often overlooked sign of vitamin D deficiency is muscle weakness and musculoskeletal pain [2]. Calcium is associated with bone strength and also plays a role in muscle contraction. It is mainly found in dairy products and in a lesser amount in leafy greens, legumes, and dried fruit. To preserve bone mineral density, a combination supplement of vitamin D and Calcium is often prescribed.


Veteran athletes are at higher risk for heat stress, cold intolerance, and hypohydration than younger athletes. The thermoregulation response slowly loses its edge which puts veteran athletes at similar risk of overheating as children [2]. Especially in weight-class sports, this is something to take into consideration. Just as young athletes should be discouraged from cutting weight relying on dehydration, veteran athletes should be too.

To counter this risk, veteran athletes should pay special attention to hydration. It is advised to keep a good fluid balance throughout the day and drink sufficiently in training. Checking the color of your urine can say a lot about your hydration status, it should be pale straw to transparent yellow. Anything darker means you need to drink more.


Recovery is an important element in an athlete’s lifestyle. After training it is recommended to ingest some carbohydrates to recover glycogen stores and some protein to stimulate training adaptation and muscle recovery.

There is some evidence suggesting that older athletes need more protein after training than their younger colleagues. This probably has to do with reduced absorption of protein and a lower metabolic efficiency [2]. Research suggests that master athletes benefit from ingesting 40g of whey protein (a double portion of a regular shake) after a high-intensity workout, while for younger athletes the recommended dose is 20g [3].





[1] Moreira, Linda Denise Fernandes et al. Physical exercise and osteoporosis: effects of different types of exercises on bone and physical function of postmenopausal women. Arq Bras Endocrinol Metab [online]. 2014, vol.58, n.5, pp.514-522.

[2] Reaburn P., Doering T., Borges N (2015). Nutrition issues for the masters athlete. In: Burke and Deakin (eds) Clinical Sports Nutrition, 5th ed. McGraw Hill: Sydney, pp 619-646.

[3] Yang, Y., Breen, L., Burd, N., Hector, A., Churchward-Venne, T., Josse, A., . . . Phillips, S. (2012). Resistance exercise enhances myofibrillar protein synthesis with graded intakes of whey protein in older men. British Journal of Nutrition, 108(10), 1780-1788.